1. ITV Report

HMS Echo home after 19 months away

HMS Echo has been at sea for 421 days and sailed 74,000 miles Photo: MOD

The Royal Navy survey ship HMS Echo has returned home today [Thursday] after an epic deployment of more than a year and a half.

Friends and family gathered on the quayside at Devonport as she returned, 593 days after she left.

She's been through the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, and out into the Indian Ocean as far as the Seychelles.

The ship has been at sea for 421 days and sailed 74,000 miles, or the equvalent of two and a half times around the world. The crew is rotated while on deployment, so they've all managed to get home on leave during the time away.

Three of the crew came home to get married. Seven babies have been born since the ship has been away. The ship has been surveying waters which haven't been mapped acurately for decades so other ships can navigate safely.

She's also taken part in naval exercises with Plymouth-based HMS Albion and helped with anti-smuggling and anti-piracy patrols.

The crew saw action when they fired on a suspected Somali pirate vessel. They fired two rounds from their saluting canon and the suspects slunk away into the night.

The vessel made several port visits and the crew had unusual opportunities to visit Jerusalem and Tripoli.

Martyr’s Square was a pleasant place for a cup of coffee and it was fascinating to see the balcony from which Gadaffi used to address the masses. Tripoli had the same hustle and bustle of any other North African city and it was a really positive sign that the country is looking forwards not backwards.

– HMS Echo's Commanding Officer Matt Syrett